We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is the Gruen Transfer?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

The Gruen Transfer is an interesting psychological phenomenon which strikes people in certain environments, making them more susceptible to making impulse buys or purchases which they might regret later. The classic signs that someone is experiencing this phenomenon are a dropped jaw, slightly glazed eyes, and a hazy, confused feeling; many people also begin to walk more slowly as this peculiar mental state sets in. Some psychologists have described the Gruen Transfer as an almost paralytic state, where the mind ceases to function because it is experiencing too much input.

This concept is named for Victor Gruen, an architect who designed one of the earliest shopping malls. In fact, Gruen himself disliked the level of manipulation necessary to create this mental state, and tried to create a shopping mall which did not confuse consumers into buying things they didn't need. However, as others copied his shopping mall concept, he noted that they apparently had fewer scruples, and he decried design decisions which promoted this mental state, earning the dubious privilege of having it named after him as a result.

A number of factors come together to create the Gruen Transfer, with almost all of the senses being stimulated in a classic reaction. The use of specific lighting and sound cues plays a role, as do ambient noise and the spatial arrangements of stores and displays. Even the temperature and humidity can interact with the Gruen Transfer, as can things like mirrors and windows.

Modern mall and store designers are well aware of the phenomenon, and they deliberately create spaces which are designed to trigger this mental state, as many visitors to malls have noticed. Many malls are deliberately very difficult to navigate, with exits and routes obfuscated so that consumers often wind up back in a store when they mean to be leaving. Individual stores also have layouts which promote longer stays, and arrange enticing items very deliberately so that people are urged to pick them up on impulse.

Gruen himself felt that manipulating consumers was rather sneaky and perhaps a bit rude, but the Gruen Transfer today is an important part of advertising and industrial architecture. Numerous firms have studied the phenomenon extensively with the goal of learning more about how to tap into it, and the next time you happen to be in a shopping center, you may be able to observe a few examples yourself.

It can be hard to avoid the Gruen Transfer, since malls are deliberately designed to trigger it. Coming with a clear list of ideas about what you want can help, as can firm ideas about budget and what you don't want. If you find yourself picking up an item that isn't on your list, or struggling to make a purchase decision, you may want to step away and take a break to clear your head.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a SmartCapitalMind researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon144395 — On Jan 19, 2011

The overwhelming feeling of depersonalization has stopped me from shopping in malls. I do all my shopping now from local stores in areas like Puckle, St Moonee Ponds.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.